January 19, 2021

OVHcloud believes in tape

OVHcloud, European cloud leader, just announced a new Storage-as-Service offering based on IBM tape coupled with Atempo for data management software. The tape chosen is the IBM Enterprise 3592 and will be managed with Atempo Miria. As a front-end, OVHcloud will integrate a 6+3 erasure coding scheme. I don't know who wrote the press release but people use replication term when they speak about EC. Let me precise things for OVHcloud people, replication creates multiple replica i.e similar blocks on multiple locations meaning you obtain x2, x3 data and erasure coding is about splitting data and adding parities but in that case there is only one copy for a final overhead ratio of 1.2, 1.3, 1.4...

The second point is related to the term used. This announce confirms the role of tape but I'm surprised to read Storage- instead of Tape-as-a-Service. Probably because OVHcloud is not at all a storage specialist but more a hosting company and continues to confuse the market. With ransomware being a dominant threat, tape and air gap make really sense.

Tape continues to evolve even if last LTO-9 characteristics have disappointed the market but recent Fujifilm and IBM research prove some new optimism for large tape capacity with prototype of 580TB per cartridge.

It is true that tape has a very low TCO as a passive media but users have to consider as well time to access data, also known as Recovery Time Objective aka RTO, and drives ratio versus tapes number to avoid long waiting time as tape drives are the critical resources. But when you compare include tape library and tape drive and not only tape, add also redundancy factor and compare with disk array as a whole with energy dimension over 5 or 10 years. On the other hand it would be crazy to keep online 10 years an archive disk array without any energy control mechanism. Tape has morphed into archive even deep archive media of choice and coupled with a catalog or content index make adoption simpler.

This is interesting as Scaleway, an other French cloud provider, promotes a disk-based deep archive system without any tape. This service spin down and stop drives to align energy savings with tape. Good, the battle continues... And we wait archive on flash as footprint is fantastic, restart is super fast, we just wait cost to go down.

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